Wilbur Townsend worked at Motu between March 2016 and June 2017. As a student, Motu awarded Wilbur the Sir Frank Holmes Prize for undergraduate econometrics.
What was your background before joining Motu?
I studied philosophy, maths and economics at Vic. For his Masters he produced two pieces of research: one asking whether legalising medical marijuana affects crime rates (it doesn’t), the other asking whether past employment affected the probability of future employment (it does).
Why did you choose to come here?
I knew I wanted a career in economic research, and Motu have an excellent reputation as a place to start one's career.
What were the highlights of your time at Motu?
I really liked the book club, and the drifting conversations over Lo Mein at lunch time. I also appreciated how much autonomy I had to explore new research ideas.
How has your career progressed since you left Motu?
I worked as a predoctoral fellow at Harvard and Stanford, where I studied the relationship between social capital and economic mobility and am about to start my PhD in business economics at Harvard.
How has your Motu experience affected your subsequent path?
In more recent jobs I have been identified as someone who can be responsible for the more difficult, technical, interesting tasks. I think that's largely because of the skills I developed at Motu.
What advice do you have for early career economists?
Make nice graphs. Take opportunities to develop your own research projects. Focus on questions which you think are important.